Water Conservation

This page contains information on what you can do to conserve water indoors and outdoors, the Water Smart Ambassador Program, and RDCK water conservation measures.

Water Conservation Measures (water restrictions)

On May 16, 2019 the RDCK Board of Directors adopted a Drinking Water Conservation Plan.  The Plan identifies some existing water conservation programs and also identifies other work to be done including:

  • Provide Annual Reporting on Water Consumption & Loss and Demand Forecasts
  • Establishment for Water Reduction Targets by Water System
  • Draft a Water Metering Implementation Strategy
  • Update Water Bylaw Metering Requirements
  • Metered Water Rate Setting for Balfour
  • WaterSmart Program
  • Agricultural Water Demand Review
  • Establish a Water Loss Control & Leak Reduction Program
  • Review Bylaw Adopted Water Conservation Requirements
  • Drought Management & Water Shortage Contingency Planning
  • Watershed Management Plan Strategy

All RDCK Water Systems

Stage 1 Water Conservation Measures go into effect every year regardless of seasonal weather patterns.  These measures are in effect June 1st to September 30th.  The Regional District may, upon notification, impose further water conservation measures (Stages 2 - 4) as necessary.

These restrictions apply to all commercial and residential customers who receive their water supply from a Regional District water system.

Click HERE for a complete description of Water Conservation Measures Stages 1 - 4 for all systems.

A Thirst for Water

Clean, safe, and abundant water is essential for life. That's why it is crucial that we all respect and protect our drinking water sources. 

Canada is home to 20% of the world's freshwater resources. Canada has thousands of lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. They provide us with water to drink, to grow our food, to power our homes, and to sustain our environment and its creatures. This freshwater wealth is a global endowment that warrants responsible stewardship. Healthy water matters - for nature and for people. 

Conserving water is easy and makes good sense from an economic, social, and environmental standpoint.

Be Water Smart

Water Smart Ambassador Program

The Water Smart program has been placed on hold the past couple of years with the expiration of grant funding and the Regional District’s desire to update the program. We will be planning for changes and hope to renew the program in upcoming years.

The RDCK Water Smart Ambassador provided free assessments of outdoor watering needs through irrigation and xeriscaping assessments during the summer months. This gave residents in participating communities access to materials such as drip irrigation kits, water saving grass seeds, hose timers, rain gauges, information on the latest water saving alternatives, and much more. 

About the program

The Water Smart Ambassador Program was originally developed by the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) to address high seasonal outdoor water use and help achieve the basin wide reduction goal of 20% in the Columbia Basin. The RDCK and the Town of Creston have participated in the Ambassador program since 2010 and the central region joined in 2016. The role of the Water Smart Ambassador was to raise awareness of water conservation and engage local residents to reduce outdoor water use.  In the summer months the Water Smart Ambassador provided free residential irrigation and xeriscaping assessments and commercial building water assessments.

In 2020, the communities that participated in the Water Smart program included the following RDCK water systems:

  • Balfour
  • Burton
  • Denver Siding
  • Duhamel
  • Edgewood
  • Erickson/Arrow Creek
  • Fauquier
  • Grandview Properties
  • Lister
  • Lucas Rd
  • McDonald Creek
  • Riondel
  • Roseberry Highlands
  • Sanca Park
  • South Slocan
  • West Robson
  • Ymir
  • Woodland Heights
  • Woodbury Village

The Water Smart Ambassador Program focused on smarter landscape and garden choices with xeriscaping theory in mind. In short, xeriscaping is the use of native, drought tolerant plants. Xeriscaping theory involves seven principles that allow us to continue enjoying our outdoor spaces while using less water and lowering maintenance time and costs.

The seven principles include planning and design, soil preparation, practical turf areas, selection of appropriate plants, mulching, efficient irrigation and maintenance. Using this method allows us to create eco-friendly landscapes that reduce water consumption and promote climate resilience.

Water Smart Assessments

During an assessment the ambassador determined the water needs of the property through soil analysis, survey of plants on property and current watering practices.

In 2020 users in the following system were able to book an assessment: Balfour, Burton, Denver Siding, Duhamel, Edgewood, Erickson, Fauquier, Grandview Properties, Lister, Lucas Rd,  McDonald Creek, Riondel, Roseberry Highlands, Sanca Park, South Slocan, West Robson, Woodbury Village, Woodland Heights, and Ymir.

Xeriscaping assessments with the Water Smart Ambassador facilitated discussion on ways the homeowner can apply xeriscaping principles in their outdoor space.  The Ambassador provided custom consultations for a yard that aligned with the owner's personal preferences and habits. The Ambassador also provided information about the latest drought resistant trends, such as butterfly puddle stations and which native drought resistant lawns work best in our area.

Water Smart Incentives

Upon completion of an irrigation and xeriscape assessment with the Water Smart Ambassador, in 2020 residents received the following incentives:

  1. Two plants grown locally. All plants to choose from were perennials, which means they will come back every year. Choices varied between native, ornamentals, ground covers, succulents, grasses and bulbs. All plants given away were drought tolerant. 
  2. Drought tolerant grass seeds
  3. Hose timer
  4. Low flow shower head

**Plant booths were also hosted throughout the summer of 2020 in RDCK water systems.  The Ambassador was on site to provide xeriscaping information to interested residents and gave away various perennial starter plants. 


What can you do to Conserve Water?

During the growing season water use can increase by as much as 200%. While lawns require a lot of water, much of this water is wasted due to over-watering and evaporation. Avoid watering in the hot sun. You’ll lose almost 50% of the water to evaporation. Watering in the hot sun lowers the health of your plants/lawn while also inviting pest and diseases that are difficult to treat. 

Watering equipment also plays a part in how much water is saved and lost. Ideally, sprinklers should be suited to the size and shape of the lawn. That way, you avoid watering driveways and sidewalks. Installing timers on outdoor taps can be a wise investment. The ambassador has free hose timers for the residents that complete an assessment. 

Sprinklers that lay water down in a flat pattern are better than oscillating sprinklers which lose as much as 50% of what they disperse through evaporation. Drip irrigation systems which apply water only to the roots zone are the most efficient alternative.

By adopting some indoor and outdoor water-savvy habits around your home, you can ensure that there is adequate water supply for everyone!

Conserve Water Outdoors:

  • Practice xeriscape landscaping techniques. Xeriscaping is the practice of planting with native or drought-tolerant plants. Some examples include: osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), dull Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), or Mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii). Consult with your local garden centre for details on which types and varieties of plants fit this category. OR come check out the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at Crescent Valley Beach to learn what looks best in our area while being drought tolerant. 
  • Wash your car infrequently, or better, don’t wash your car at all.
  • Purchase a rain barrel to collect rainwater which can then be applied to your lawn & garden. 
  • Get rid of your lawn.  Instead, plant native ground cover such as kinnick-kinnick or cotoneaster.  Not only do these plants require less water, they don’t need mowing, and stay green all summer.
  • Plant more trees and shrubs on your property to keep your house cool and to protect your garden from drying out.  Compost the leaves that fall in the autumn.
  • Apply compost to your gardens.  This helps soils to retain moisture and reduces the need to water as often.
  • If you have a lawn, water it infrequently and keep it long.  This promotes deep roots and heartier lawns.  Grasses are typically very tough.  One inch of water per week will keep your lawn happy.
  • If you use a sprinkler, avoid using the “mist” setting. Misting just encourages water to evaporate into the air before it hits the plants. Water only in the morning and early evening. This, too, reduces evaporation.

Conserve Water Indoors:

  • Renovating your bathroom? Invest in a low-flow or a dual flush toilet and save up to 30% of your daily water usage.
  • Install low-flow showerheads. They deliver 10 liters of water per minute. Conventional showerheads deliver 20-28 liters per minute. The ambassador has free low-flow showerheads upon completing an assessment. 
  • Take shorter showers (maximum 5 minutes) or, when taking a bath, use less water in the tub.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or when soaping your hands during washing.
  • Only run your dishwasher when it has a full load of dirty dishes. Some dishwashers even have a water saving cycle. Make use of it. When you don’t have a full load of dishes, use your sink.
  • If you like drinking cold water, try storing water in a container in the refrigerator. This way you don’t have to run the tap to make the water cold. Running the tap wastes 20-28 litres of water per minute.
  • Buying a new clothes washer? Invest in a front loading machine, they are exponentially more efficient (save energy, detergent and water!) Plus they are easier on your clothes and you may qualify for a rebate from your energy provider.
  • When washing your clothes, use the correct setting (e.g. small, medium, large) to match the amount of clothing you have. Use the shortest possible cycle.     
  • Toilets can account for up to 30% of all inside water use. Place a brick wrapped in plastic in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush. Remember to wrap the brick in plastic to prevent grit from entering your plumbing. A plastic pop bottle filled with water or sand and capped will also do the trick.

Water Smart-approved Helpful Resources for Irrigation and Xeriscaping

We have gathered a collection of helpful websites for irrigation, xeriscaping, and native plants.

In addition, check out our Water Smart Brochures to learn more:

The content on this page was last updated January 4 2023 at 8:31 AM